Ambassador Johanna Svanikier is Founder, President and CEO of the Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation, HACSA-USA and HACSA-Caribbean. The HACSA Foundation is an NGO, non-profit, social enterprise with a mission to preserve, advocate for and promote the use of African heritage and culture for social and economic progress and community development in Africa and the Diaspora. In March 2017, Ambassador Svanikier organised the hugely influential African Diaspora Homecoming Conference to celebrate Ghana’s 60th independence anniversary in a memorable and meaningful way. This seminal event inspired “the Year of Return” and was followed by the HACSA Sankofa Summit 2019, which symbolically commemorated 400 years since the transatlantic slave trade began.
Ambassador Svanikier is Ghana’s recent past Ambassador to France & Portugal and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO and La Francophonie. During her tour of duty in Paris, she initiated Ghana’s membership of the OECD Development Centre where she represented Ghana on the Governing Board. Ambassador Svanikier chaired the ECOWAS Group at UNESCO from 2014 to 2015 and successfully campaigned to win Ghana a seat on the UNESCO Executive Board. She also organised a delegation from France to Ghana led by the Prime Minister of France.
She was the longest serving non-executive director of Fidelity Bank Ghana and Fidelity Asia Bank. During her 12 year tenure, she initiated and chaired subcommittees on Remuneration and Staff Welfare and Technology. She also initiated the Fidelity Bank Women’s Forum which evolved into the Orange Women’s Network and which other institutions were inspired to follow. In 2020 she became a non-executive member of the board of DreamOval, the fastest growing indigenous Fintech company in Ghana.
In 2012, she was appointed to serve as a Commissioner on the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC). She has also served on the Petroleum Revenue Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Finance and on the Advisory Board of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources under two administrations. She was appointed to the board of the National Commission on Culture in 2017 and invited to sit on the Council of Patrons of the Ghana Culture Forum. She is also a member of the Board of the Economic Club of Ghana and chairs the Advisory Board of the Oxford University Africa Society in the U.K.
Ambassador Svanikier is a lawyer and qualified barrister by profession and was called to the Bar of England and Wales at the Inner Temple in 1990. She also qualified as a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Ghana. She has previously been a university lecturer with the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana, Legon, and a legal and development consultant. She is founder and was the first Director of the Human Rights Study Centre at the University of Ghana.
She holds Bachelors and Master’s Degrees in law from the London School of Economics, UK, a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, U.S.A. and a Masters in Political Science and International Relations Research from the University of Oxford, U.K. She was a Fulbright Scholar during her time at Harvard University and is the author of several publications including “Women’s Rights and the Law in Ghana.”
Ambassador Svanikier is a regular speaker at conferences and events and was recognised by Humanitarian Awards Global as among the 100 Most Influential Change Makers in Ghana in 2021. She is passionate about history, heritage and culture, technology and innovation, women and youth empowerment and environmental protection.